Credit: Blizzard Entertainment
The chase for the final spots in the Stage Two playoffs for the Overwatch League this past week saw a year-over-year decrease in average concurrent viewership with fewer highly competitive matches, despite more total matches being played.
While six teams ended Stage Two this year just one game outside of the league’s eight-team playoff, the league’s four total matches that went to a tiebreaking fifth game for the final weekend were lower than the five matches in 2018. This happened even though there were just 12 best-of-five matches last year compared to 14 matches this weekend.
With just two matches being played on Thursday, total hours watched and average viewership were both down for the league that averaged 85K CCV on Twitch. With four matches being played on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, viewership picked up hitting an average of 104K CCV on Friday and reached 130K CCV for Saturday and Sunday.
Those averages are down from 108K CCV from the first day of action in Week Five last year. Days two and three averaged 124K and 123K, respectively, and that was followed by an average of 130K CCV on the final day before the Stage Two playoffs in 2018.
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Ultimately, the league reached 3.26M hours watched this year on the main OWL channel and its top alternate-language broadcasts, down slightly from 3.28M hours watched for live coverage during the same week in 2018 even though fewer matches were played.
Overall viewership for the main OWL channel, including re-runs and peripheral coverage, recorded 3.3M hours watched for the week averaging 44K CCV. That figure matched what the channel produced last year from March 20-24. Though the channel had a higher average CCV of 50K in 2018.
Peak viewership of 132K CCV for the weekend was also down from last year where action on Thursday hit 161K CCV. This year’s peak came on Sunday when the Seoul Dynasty lost a match 3-1 against the Hangzhou Spark that effectively knocked them out of the stage playoffs and put the Spark in at the end of the final day of the stage.
While Twitch remains the primary platform for measuring viewership habits of the core Western esports audience, it does not represent the totality of Overwatch League viewership. Fans can watch the action on OWL’s official website, Battle.net, and MLG. Additionally, matches are streamed in China on Zhanqi.tv, NetEase CC, Bilibili, and Huya, and Blizzard also has a deal to broadcast matches on Disney-owned platforms including ESPN, ABC, and Disney XD.